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How Long Does it Take to Make Compost?

A very frequently asked question is “How long does it take to make compost?” The answer to this question begins with “Well, it depends…” Many factors make it difficult to predict composting times. The time it takes to decompose materials can be as long as a year or more. Or, as many composter manufacturers claim… the time to compost can be as little as 30 days!

Let’s explore how quickly (or how long) it takes to make compost.

Compost Time - Just 30 Days

Under ideal conditions, you can indeed make finished compost in as little as 30 days. And, perhaps a little less. This means:

  • The raw material is shredded into fine pieces, or is already fine,like grass.
  • There is no woody material.
  • There is a healthy mixture of Nitrogen and Carbon Materials, 60-80% Nitrogen.
  • The air temperature is warm.
  • There is good air circulation. Compost tumblers are perfect for this.
  • The materials are turned and mixed frequently, if not daily. Again, compost tumblers aid in this process step.
  • There are sufficient microorganisms in the material. To accomplish this, you may need to add micro-organisms when you begin a new batch.
  • The material is kept moist, but not wet.

While this is the fastest way to compost, seldom do all the conditions line up to complete the decomposition process in such a short time.

A Year or More

A passive, inactive pile can sit there on the ground for a long, long time. Pile up a bunch of dead, dried-out leaves, or add big, thick pieces of material, like dried-up corn or sunflower stalks. Then, just leave it alone, It will decompose, ever so slowly. Nature will ultimately perform the task…eventually. If you are not in a hurry for finished compost or do not have a lot of time to tend to the pile, a passive compost pile may be just fine.

Decomposition Between 30 Days and a Year

Chances are your finished compost will take somewhere between the two extremes above. Most of us do not have the time to do all the things necessary to decompose materials in just 30 days. Seldom, do we have all of the materials finely shredded. Turning the pile regularly is time-consuming., too. And, frequently, the other conditions needed for speedy decomposition, are less than ideal.

If you want to speed up your composting project, anything you can do that emulates making compost in 30 days, will speed up decomposition. Simply start with the things that are quick and easy to do. Then, leave the rest of the work to nature.

Related Articles

People who like this article will also like:

How to Compost

Nitrogen and Carbon Raw Materials – The proper mix accelerates decomposition.

Activators and Inoculators – They help to speed up the process.

Preparing Raw Materials – Shredding and ripping material into smaller pieces.

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